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KINGDOM HOSPITAL (article first published : 2004-11-28)

The legendary master of horror, Stephen King, premieres his first television series, Kingdom Hospital, which he has also written and produced on actionX- channel 6 on DStv (starting November 24th at 19h00).

Kingdom Hospital is not like other hospitals - it is built on the wreckage of two horrific fires. The first fire, during the civil war, burned down a building where small children toiled away under nightmarish conditions. Nearly all of the long-suffering children were trapped and died in the fire. The second fire destroyed the "old Kingdom," a creepy hospital where an evil doctor performed hideous experiments on patients. The "new Kingdom" is the site of strange, paranormal phenomena, where the unquiet dead still roam. Every week, over 20 regular and recurring characters check in and out of Kingdom Hospital, playing out the eternal conflict between good and evil.

The series weaves a dark, terrifying tale threaded with stunning visual effects, macabre mysticism and twisted humour. It also draws heavily on Stephen King's own personal near-death experience in 1999 when he was nearly killed by an out-of-control minivan while walking near his home in Maine.

King introduces a character television has never seen before, draws on inspiration from a singing detective, and fuels the story with details mined from his months of recovery in the hospital after his accident. All the while, he instils Kingdom Hospital with his trademark eye-popping scares, jaw-dropping turns, and wily wit.

In the hospital the patients' tales begin with the seeming miraculous recovery of artist Peter Rickman (Jack Coleman), who has sustained a gruesome accident, and the dogged pursuits of a could-be psychic, the hypochondriac Mrs Druse (Diane Ladd). Peter Rickman lies in a semi-conscious state after being hit head on by a substance-addled van driver while jogging.

The hospital staff, on the other hand, has different experiences as old secrets have begun to surface. The doctors who have put their faith into science and technology are dismissing the unexplained mysteries and unseen powers they probably shouldn't ignore. Sally Druse is convinced that the ghost of a little girl that dwells in the hospital is conveying a terrifying secret. Meanwhile, an incompetent brain surgeon Dr. Stegman (Bruce Davison) vengefully battles the brilliant tactics of the more sanguine Dr. Hook (Andrew McCarthy). A squeamish nurse desperately tries to keep sure-footed while a nearly blind security guard sees ghosts.

All of these characters and plots converge in this frightening and shocking tale of a hospital built over the site of a great fire that killed many children over 100 years ago. The curse and the past disaster now seem to haunt the present establishment.

"It's dark and spooky, but you'll also have some tremendous belly laughs. One of the greatest defenses against fear is laughter," says Executive Producer Mark Carliner, an Emmy, Golden Globe and Peabody Award winner who has worked on King's television projects since 1995. "Black comedy is a rare and exotic form....."




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